Foley slept at Orloff’s house, teaching the boys French, and fiddling constantly for his own amusement and that of the workmen, but never attempted to go into the works although he saw the precious nail-rods being carried away on the backs of mules and loaded waggons drawn by bullocks. After two months Orloff’s two dogs became so fond of Foley that they refused to stay in the works, which were so infested with rats that the absence of these dogs became a matter of serious inconvenience.
The largest and the best one, ‘Estav,’ would go with Orloff into the works, but invariably got back to Foley as quickly as possible to listen to the strains of the music.
“In this dilemma the manager suggested to Orloff that the French fiddler should be induced to play in the works, and be allowed a certain number of kopecks according to the quantity of rats destroyed, the name of the vermin now being Legion.
Foley fell in with the offer; the French fiddler and the dogs entered the works. Foley accepted the reward, had a bed stuck in the office in one corner of the works, where fiddling was carried on as usual. The dogs soon destroyed the rats, and the French fiddler became the greatest favourite with both managers and men at this famous slitting mill on the slopes of the Ural Mountains.
Foley next undertook to make them some drawings of the Notre Dame Church at Paris, for which purpose he obtained paper and materials: and in this way at night, with no company in the office but the faithful dogs ‘Estav’ and ‘Petri,’ did he make his plans of the Russian slitting mill.
“We must now introduce our readers again to him at the Hyde Works.
The object of his absence soon became known. The cutters were made, the mill erected and commenced work; but alas! it was a failure, it would not slit the rods. By some accident he had lost one section of his plan, and Foley became taciturn, moody and disconsolate.
Without the slightest intimation, after a lapse of six months, he absented himself again, and managed once more, with fear and trembling, to brave all dangers and fear of suspicion, manfully embarked on the journey, fiddling his way again to the same iron works, where he was received with open arms by Orloff and the workmen, the dogs not being the least overjoyed at the second advent of the Frenchman.
“He took up his old quarters in the office, remained at the works twelve months, often worked the slitting mill himself, made sure of his plans this time, returned to England, erected the slitting mill, made splendid rods, better cut and of better iron for nail purposes than the Russians, and what perhaps was at that time more pleasing to him, introduced a new manufacture into the metallurgical industries of his native country.
“The above facts have been obtained by us from friends at Stourbridge (Mr Rowland Price, solicitor, and Mr Padwick, the engineer at the Stourbridge Works), who had been known to the father and grandfather of the editor of the ‘Guide,’ and may be taken as the best history of this marvellous young Iron Master on record.” That was the end of Samuel Griffiths’ tale of Fiddler Foley but at the end of the chapter questions were asked that throw a little doubt on the authenticity of Foley’s adventure.
“How Mr Foley got there and back we cannot say: we know he did not go by a steamer to Ostend or Dover; we know too that he did not travel by rail to London nor by canal; nor did he put his foot into a railway car in Russia, or effect his advent to Moscow other than on foot. We know likewise that he had no steamer to paddle up the Neva and drop him down at St Petersburg. All this we know (these were relatively modern forms of transport in the late 19th century that didn’t exist in Richard Foley’s time), but his privations, sorrow, trouble, and anxiety, with perils by sea and land, we do not know. The Hyde Works, however, established by the ancestors of this noble family, still stand (1872) as a memento of the advantages conferred on England by such families as the Foleys and such firms as the current owners Messrs. Lee and Bolton, who for many years have been the proprietors, and still make the best slit rods, wire rods, bars, boiler plates, sheets, singles, doubles, plating bars, and in fact all kinds of iron of the best quality.”